Whole grain millet bars

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Today we had a big, tiring brick workout, and all I wanted to do afterward was take a nap. Instead, I made these experimental millet bars. Because experimenting with millet bars is fun, of course, and because that's what you do for a friend like Jen, who buys you a beckoning coffee shop bar she knows you'll love and writes down the listed ingredients--since you'll without doubt be itching to try to make them for yourself.  So this recipe is another one for Jen ostensibly, but who am I really kidding? They're just as much for me.

I haven't been doing baking posts quite as much lately, being swept up in various Kitchen DIY phases and great greens. In spite of, or maybe because of, lingering fatigue today, getting down to some concentrated baking made me feel a little heady, and I have to say gleeful. The results were gratifying, too, even better. In fact, I really, really wanted to include the word "yummy" in the title of this post, but I've been told that's redundant and shows a lack of confidence, so I held back.

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Quickly, a few words about millet: until recently, you might have known it better as bird food. In recent years, it's become positively trendy, and is lending crunch and texture to many natural baked goods and products. It's presence seems to add a little extra confirmation that something is wholesome. That may be because millet actually has some special health benefits you wouldn't necessarily expect in a tiny yellow ball of a seed. One cup of cooked millet provides approximately 19% of the DV for notably heart-healthy magnesium, an important nutrient also reputed to help reduce cholesterol, and to ease migraines, and even asthma. Millet is also a good source of other valuable nutrients like phosphorus and manganese. And, the more I learn and inquire about nutrition, the more it strikes me how much more there is to the mysterious total package of a whole food than the sum of its parts (thanks, Michael Pollan!).

These bars are not twin to the delectable coffee shop originals.  But they're a very solid and scrumptious first step, I think, and I will definitely make them again with no tweaks. This recipe template is so tempting to toy with, though, with swaps like honey or some kind of blackstrap molasses combination for agave; or addends like shredded coconut, dates, etc, etc. You get to eat and play  with your food. Kind of like having your cake and eating it, too, I suppose. If you find a fabulous flavor combination for these, let me know...and the fun goes on...

 Whole grain millet bars

  • 3/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup flax meal/ground flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shopped walnuts, divided
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup according to desired sweetness
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil*
    *Lighten up by reducing coconut oil to 1/4 cup, and adding 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1/4 cup aquafaba (drained chickpea water) to the mixture)
  1. Lightly toast millet by dry frying in a skillet on medium heat, a couple of minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to turn. Set aside.
  2. While millet is toasting, add 1/2 cup water to flaxmeal in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In a food processor, grind 1/2 cup walnuts with oats. Add flaxmeal/water mix and blend and process to combine. Gently warm coconut oil in a small saucepan.
  5. Add flax mixture to flour mixture. Add vanilla, agave, and liquefied coconut oil. Stir to form a batter. Fold in millet and remaining 1/4 cup walnuts.
  6. Spread into a prepared 8X8 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Cool and slice into bars.